Michael Bourke

Chief, Behavioral Analysis Unit, U.S. Marshals Service

Best known for: When law enforcement authorities need help investigating sex crimes against children or assistance tracking down child sex offenders who have not complied with state registry requirements, they often turn to Michael Bourke. As chief psychologist for the U.S. Marshals Service Behavioral Analysis Unit, Bourke provides local, state and federal law enforcement officials with insights into the minds of sex offenders. This includes behavioral profiles to narrow a list of suspects, guidance on interrogation techniques, threat and violence risk assessments, the administration of polygraph tests, and training police officers on how to interview people and locate child victims.

Bourke seeks to help identify suspects by looking at the manner in which an offense was committed and by searching for other clues that may link known offenders to a crime. He reviews the videotapes of interrogations and interprets those interviews to help law enforcement officers build their cases.

Government service: After a pre-doctoral internship at a federal prison in Fort Worth, Bourke joined the staff at the Federal Correctional Institution in Butner, N.C., where he worked as a psychologist in the Sex Offender Treatment Program, the Hypersexuality Management Program, and the Commitment and Treatment Program for Sexually Dangerous Persons. In September 2008 he joined the U.S. Marshals Service as the chief psychologist and head of the Behavioral Analysis Unit, which focuses on apprehending sex offenders.

Biggest challenge: One of the toughest parts of the job is translating the “psychological babble” used to describe the pathologies of sex offenders, and put the information into a format that is helpful to investigators who deal with cases ranging from murder to cyberstalking.

Quote: “Combating the scourge of child exploitation gives me the feeling that I am doing the right thing for the right reasons and that I am making a difference in the lives of children. I go home at the end of the day, look at my two small kids and know I can tell them, ‘Your dad did something good for the community that he was sworn to protect.’ ”

— Partnership for Public Service

For a full profile, go to The Fed Page at washingtonpost.com.